Great is Thy Faithfulness!

And just like that, our summer at Campus by the Sea (CBS) is over.  After the coolest summer of our 35 years together at CBS, we wakened this morning with no doubt we were no longer there.  The over 90 degree temps and equal humidity today remind us that part of the reason we love “summering” at Campus by the Sea is the weather!!!

The last two weeks of family camp continued in the trajectory of the summer: beyond words wonderful.  We can’t remember a summer when there has been more evidence of God’s grace working out among us in so many ways.  Every banquet this summer evidenced this, as the “feast” we consumed was exceeded only be the “feast” we witnessed after person upon person shared of how they had been met by God during the week.

Family Camp 5 featured second year speaker David Tebay, senior pastor of Calvary Church of Placentia.  He challenged us with the message of Romans 12, and his sermons were practical and discomforting.  That’s good.  :)  It was a delight to have his son, Taylor, on our program staff all summer, and to have his wife, Carrie, daughters Tara and Amy, and son Austin join him for the week.  David’s father, John, was one of the officiating pastors at our wedding, and along with his wife Grace, has been a significant mentor in our lives for the past almost four decades.  It’s so good to see the generational legacy of God’s faithfulness in this family.

David and Carrie Tebay, with Austin, Tara, Amy, and Taylor.

The “staff only” annual hike to “Lone Tree” took place on the Wednesday of Family Camp 5.  Only 12 braved this challenging, 9-mile-round-trip hike, and we were all on the top within 1.5 hrs.  Though we were very thankful for the cloud cover hiking up, we all wished the sun would burn it off once we were on the top.  But alas, we remained sunless (in keeping with the theme of the summer!)  Oh well, makes for easier hiking!  We had a great time of fellowship and experienced wonderful camaraderie throughout.  Another Lone Tree summit accomplished!

Front row: Holland Stewart, David Hathaway, Heather Thiel, “Mama Virg”, Megan Forbes, Lisa Friesen, Leslie Johnston, Scott JohnstonBack row:  Jared Klay, Rachel Baughman, Whitnee Sherman, and Christy Johnston.  Mission accomplished: Lone Tree conquered!
As was true for every Family Camp, the week flew by and before we were ready for it, Saturday morning had arrived and we were celebrating God’s faithfulness during our closing session.  Tears, hugs, and another heartfelt chorus of “We love you campers, oh, yes, we do!” sent this wonderful group of campers off to San Pedro.
Late that Saturday afternoon, the program staff and part of the facilities staff headed into Avalon for the annual “staff appreciation” meal in town. “Mi Casita” was the site of our dinner and though the food wasn’t nearly as good as what we’ve enjoyed from the CBS kitchen this summer, it was a fun and relaxing change of venue.  The bonus of the night was the brilliant full moon - with no cloud cover - spawning our second full moon hike of the summer. Twenty-one intrepid staff hiked under the unbelievably beautiful moonlit night, which put a large exclamation point on a great evening.

Program staff appreciation dinner at Mi Casita in Avalon.

Presto change-o - into hiking clothes and off to Campus by the Sea under a moonlit night.
Family Camp 6 arrived on Sunday, July 25.  Gary and Anne Gaddini and their four daughters joined our resource team this week and as usual, Gary’s speaking did not disappoint.  He preached through the book of Jonah, and was compelling, challenging, relevant, and inspiring.  (A reminder that all of the family camp talks from CBS 2010 are available on MP3’s on the CBS website.)  Gary’s passion for Christ, his knowledge of the Word, and his strong communication skills combined to “knock it out of the park.”

Gary and Anne Gaddini with 3 of their 4 daughters join Lisa, Paul, and me for ice cream in Avalon on hike day.

Week 6 had so many special features.  One of them was having Garth and Rosemary Dougan in camp for the week.  Now at 87 and 85, they continue to inspire all of us.  We invited them to our staff meeting and spent a few moments honoring them for their years of faithful service at CBS, but mostly for their faithfulness to the Lord for decades.  Their lives are so hope-giving.  How we love them!

Paul presented Garth and Rosemary with honorary staff shirts at the banquet Friday night.  Don’t they look terrific?

The program staff share a staff meeting with Garth and Rosemary Dougan, CBS staff “grandparents” emeritus.
Another very special moment during week 6 was Chelsea Paskvan’s baptism.  Chels grew up coming to family camp and served on staff for several summers.  She just graduated from Kent State University with a degree in fashion design and is living in NYC working in the industry.  She wanted to be baptized in the place where God has met her consistently.  It was a beautiful service.  BTW, Chelsea has been a great friend to the young woman from NYC who became a Christian at camp during week 2.  She has taken her to Tim Keller’s church, Redeemer, and is walking with her during her first steps as a Christian.

Lisa prays for Chelsea at her baptism ceremony.
It’s hard to remember a summer when we’ve experienced more spiritual fruit than this one.  Or a summer when there’s been more unity among the staff team.  We were especially impressed with how well the program staff worked together; they were “all in” with serving and becoming more Christlike.  They were such a delight to partner with!

I’m still amazed at God’s faithfulness to us in bringing this team together.  Twenty of our twenty-four program staff grew up as family campers.  That means they really “get” it; they know how important staff members were in their lives through the years.  It’s an awesome thought to consider that all the years these kids were growing up as family campers, they were in training to serve as staff workers one day!

We also had an unusually high number of staff with theatrical or musical backgrounds, and in line with their gifts, we had more creative flair in the program.  The Children’s Program drama, written and directed by the staff,  was fabulous and conveyed the essence of the Prodigal Son story remarkably well.  John Thiel, our worship leader (as well as children’s program director) wrote a short reader’s theater for opening night and closing morning, and that was well received.  He also wrote a catchy memory verse song, which will be sung long after the summer of 2010 is history.

After we sent our last family campers sailing, we spent our last almost 24 hours in camp bringing closure to the summer.  The year round staff couples prepared a wonderful Mexican feast for our last dinner together and that was followed by “Saturday Night Live” - a sharing of talents which would bless our community.  Sunday morning, we had a wonderful two-hour worship/sharing service and we privileged to hear how God had met us individually through our seven weeks together.  It was a really sweet time.  And then it was boat time.

It’s impossible to put into words what it means to live in this kind of unplugged, undistracted, directed community for almost two months, but what is unspoken is mostly intangible.  God meets each of us in different ways, right where we are on the journey towards His heart.  He uses us, imperfect as we each are, to impact eternity, and none of us can really get our minds around that.  We can get our hearts around it, though, and even more now, after spending a summer delving deeper into “The Father’s Love,” and for that, we’ll be forever grateful.

On the Catalina Express, en route back to the mainland...our very wonderful staff team gathers for one last shot “for the blog.”  :)

And so the sun sets on another summer at CBS and we head off to New Hampshire to do two more weeks of family camp.  We are exceedingly tired . . . and exceedingly grateful.  “Great is Thy Faithfulness!”